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June 25, 2013 • 12:47:49 p.m.

Group promotes women motorcycle riders

By JAMI KUNZER – jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Kimberly Barber(center) talks with fellow female motorcycle riders before a group ride in McHenry. Barber started women's riding group Property of No One to celebrate and promote women motorcycle riders. (Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com)

Actually, it’s more of a “non-group,” she said, emphasizing its difference from other motorcycle groups.

She’d met numerous women intimidated by other groups, wanting to ride, but not sure where to turn. 

At age 40 and riding for about 18 years since taking a motorcycle class while serving four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Barber said she’s enjoyed riding with men through the years.

But she saw the need for a group that simply allowed women to bond over motorcycles and open roads, that didn’t require any conformity, to feel empowered and free.

It’s a group that lets them leave behind grocery and homework lists and other daily stresses for a while, she said.

“I’m by no means putting down any other group,” she said. “This is where we’re very unique in that aspect. The only role model you’re required to be is yourself ... I don’t want to identify with a group. I want to identify with myself.”

Hosting a couple of rides so far, Property of No One has drawn up to 21 riders. The group’s Facebook page has gone from about 30 likes at its beginning to more than 100 now.

Barber said she hopes to keep building momentum as more women learn about the group.

When they ride, they basically “wing it,” she said, meeting at the McHenry Harley-Davidson, 2103 Route 120, usually on Sunday mornings and heading out from there. 

They’ve gone north to small towns in Wisconsin, sticking only to the back roads. They’ve stopped to sit on docks and watch boats coming in and out. They’ve eaten at diners.

With Barber at the helm, they’ve gotten lost occasionally, but that’s part of the fun.

“Guys’ riding is very different than women’s riding,” she said. “Guys like to ride and there’s bar-hoppping and highway riding. Women, on an emotional level, we like to see more of the scenery. We like the back roads.

“We do like riding with guys, but then there are those times you just want to ride with women.”

In her early 30s, Jessica Holt of McHenry said the group has given her confidence. A Harley rider – “Oh yeah, I’m a big girl,” she said – she regularly rides with her husband. 

Property of No One offers her and other women the chance to relate to one another.

“We cheer each other on,” Holt said. “We give each other tips. The camaraderie is just amazing, and that’s what I like most about it.”

Going through a divorce, Kimberly Kemen said Property of No One was exactly what she needed.

Kemen, of Mundelein, always has ridden with her husband, who got her started on motorcycles about 14 years ago. She wanted to keep riding, but didn’t know where to go.

“I’m not a big drinker, and I don’t want to go riding really fast,” she said. “I just want to have a fun time with a bunch of people ... There are a lot of people (in Property of No One) going through similar situations like me. We’re helping to encourage each other to move on.”

All ages, from different backgrounds and stages in life, they share a love for their motorcycles, Harleys, Suzukis, whatever the brand.

“It’s kind of neat to hear everybody kind of share where they’re at in life,” said Beth Fox of McHenry, who rides with the group. “We all have some different stories and similarities at the same time.”

Those passing by often shout out words of support as the women blaze by.

And just maybe a woman with a car full of groceries will see the group and think, “You know what? I can do that. I want that,’” Barber said. 

“Then come down,” she said. “We’ll take you on some great rides.”

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